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Bilic defends his 'tired' Croatia

CROATIA boss Slaven Bilic has asked fans not to panic after a sub-par display from his side in a friendly against Norway.

The Croatians, who face Ireland in our opening game at Euro 2012 in Poznan next Sunday, conceded a late equaliser to only draw 1-1 with Norway in a friendly in Oslo on Saturday night. Croatia did rest key men Luka Modric and Vedran Corluka due to injury concerns, though Bilic is confident that the pair will be fit to face Ireland.

Norway are a clever side and only missed out on a place in the play-offs for Euro 2012 as they were pipped on goal difference by Portugal, but even so the 1-1 draw was not well received in Croatia.

"We were tired after difficult training sessions, and we were missing two key players, Modric and Corluka," said Bilic (pictured left).

"Norway was a tough opponent, but those waiting for us at the European Championship will be even tougher.

"However, there's no reason to panic. We have plenty of time and we will continue with our preparations as planned.

"So far we have worked brilliantly in training," he added.